Best Car Stereo Reviews 2018

We know that you are aware that factory car stereos are decent, but don’t excel at playing music. If you really want to enjoy your tunes while driving, we suggest getting a better car stereo and better car speakers. We have a separate review of some of the most popular car speakers as well. For now, we’ve picked five great products from some of the best car stereo brands out there. Take a look at them and find out which one you prefer!
Overview
PROS
CONS
SPECS
Display
Compatibility
Size
Connectivity
Extras
Our Top Choice
Pioneer AVH-280BT Car Stereo
Pioneer is a professional manufacturer of audio devices. The AVH-280BT Car Stereo is easy to use and it features a gorgeous display on which you can see video clips.
Large display. Comes with Bluetooth technology. Can play CDs/DVDs. Hands-free operation. Easy to use.
Isolated complaints regarding to the Bluetooth connectivity.
6.2 inch
Android and Apple smartphones
6.5 x 7 x 3.9 inches
Bluetooth, USB Direct
DVD/CD video and audio playback
Best Value
Clarion CZ305 Bluetooth Car Stereo Receiver
Clarion specializes in electronics and car accessories. The CZ305 car stereo is practical, versatile and it features numerous connectivity options.
Available in 2 configurations. Easy to use. Attractive and intuitive design. Instantly connects with your smartphone.
Few complaints that radio didn’t work out of the box.
LCD
Android Media Playback
7 x 7.4 x 2.3 inches
Bluetooth
Built-in high and low-pass filter
Kenwood DDX9703S Car Stereo
Kenwood makes some of the most sophisticated and attractive car stereos on the market today. The DDX9703S model is a high-end car stereo packed with technology!
Large LCD display. Lots of connectivity options for your smartphone. Illuminated keys. Analog audio output. Features bass boost.
A bit expensive, but it has a great deal of useful features.
6.95" touchscreen LCD
Pandora, Spotify
12 x 8 x 5 inches
Bluetooth, rear video output
13-band graphic equalizer
Alpine CDE-HD149BT Car Stereo
Alpine makes superior audio equipment for almost all vehicles. The CDE-HD149BT model is sophisticated, intuitive and it can play music from a variety of devices.
Comes with a dedicated subwoofer output. iPod Audio integration. 3.5mm audio input. Compatible with iPhone devices.
Some customers reported minor Bluetooth issues.
Premium LCD
Android and Apple smartphones
6.3 x 7 x 2 inches
Bluetooth
4 selectable colors
Sony CDX-G3100UP CD Receiver with USB
Sony is a worldwide-renowned manufacturer of electronics. The CDXG3100UP Car Stereo is easy to use and it will make your car look more sophisticated and attractive.
Prestigious manufacturer. Numerous connectivity options. Easy to control and adjust settings. Generous LCD screen. Bass boost.
Isolated complaints regarding reliability.
LCD 
Pandora 
9.8 x 9.5 x 9.1 inches
USB
Dynamic Reality Amp

(Updated )
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How Do I Choose the Best Car Stereo?

Journeys around town or to and from work will never be boring again if you have a good car stereo. This accessory allows you to listen to your favorite radio stations, play the music you like or, even better, transform your vehicle into an educational theatre by listening to self-improvement CDs or personal development audio books! Most cars have a standard car stereo these days, but they are usually almost featureless and non-cooperative. If you are spending a lot of time in your vehicle on a regular basis, it is a good idea to invest in a higher-quality car stereo to enjoy a better acoustic experience.

There are also multiple types of car stereos available on the market today, and they come from some of the most prestigious manufacturers such as Sony and Canon. Once you get the hang of accessorizing your car, you can invest in other types of car-related gadgets, such as car speakers, car amplifiers or a car Bluetooth headset. These products will help you enjoy your favorite tunes to the fullest and even prepare your car for a genuine party experience!

We created this guide to lend you a helping hand in picking a good car stereo. There are a couple of tips and tricks you need to know to ensure you will be satisfied with your decision for years to come, so keep reading to find them out.
Price
Prices for car stereos are quite varied, depending on their type, make and connectivity options. For example, you might have to pay between about $70 and up to $500 for a high-quality car stereo. The ones that cost several hundreds of dollars usually incorporate a touchscreen display you can use to access the functions of the stereo, making your experience simpler and more pleasant. If you prefer old-school players, stick to those which come with old-fashioned physical buttons, but don’t underestimate their capabilities.

Also, be aware that the market offers you numerous enticing options – aka excessively cheap car stereos. Paying anything under $50-$60 for a car stereo is a waste of money in the long run, because such products don’t offer many features and can break down easily.
Features
We want to help you recognize and identify a high-quality car stereo when you see one, so here are a few important aspects you should keep in mind when shopping for car stereos.
  • Type - As mentioned above, they usually come in two types – with LCD screen or without. It is up to you which one you prefer, but keep in mind that the ones with touchscreen display even allow you to play your favorite movies. Don’t try that while driving, though.
  • Playback Support - Most of them support CDs and DVDs, but certain stereos also offer you the possibility to play music directly from a USB stick.
  • Bluetooth Connectivity - This is necessary if you want to play music directly from your phone, tablet or laptop.
  • Compatibility - Today's car stereos can be compatible with your Android or iPhone, making it very easy for you to connect the two of them and browse for your favorite music. In some cases, you can even listen to music from installed apps on your phone.
These are only a few interesting features to keep in mind, but there are plenty others. For example, most high-quality stereos come with a remote, so you can control the music playback and volume even when you are outside the car. If you are a novice when it comes to car stereos and want something to play the preferred, good ol' FM radio station, go for a less sophisticated product at first, otherwise, pick a more advanced player.
Construction and Design
Before ordering, it is a good idea to ensure that your selected car stereo is compatible with the vehicle you have. This can be done easily by visiting the manufacturer's website and checking for compatibility. You might also want to get details about the output of a particular car stereo. For example, high-quality players usually have 2V or 4V preamp outputs, which can go to the front speakers, rear speakers and the subwoofer. If you don’t know how these work, maybe it is a good idea to ask a mechanic friend or a professional in an auto shop to install the stereo for you.

If you decide on a sophisticated stereo that includes a touchscreen display, you will be surprised to find that some of them have the screen size of a regular tablet – around six to eight inches. You can control almost everything from there, including the volume, app browser for your phone, graphic equalizer and more. There might be one or two physical buttons for ejecting the CD or DVD.

If you go for regular stereos, these have a small LCD screen where the settings and name of the track are displayed. You can control the stereo using the physical buttons available and take advantage of its Bluetooth capabilities (if any) to play music from your smartphone. We like the fact that some stereos light up in sync with the music played and can display multiple colors while playing the music, transforming your car into a small party stage.

Don’t forget that most car stereos also incorporate a plethora of sound effects, which will make you enjoy your tracks even more. For example, at the press of a button you can enhance the bass or apply low and high-pass filters or various sound effects to improve the quality of the music. Feel free to play with those settings to find the sound you really like.
Performance and Ease of Use
Today's car stereos can play music in various formats, such as .mp3, .wav, .aac, and many others. You can even play video files if you get a stereo with a touchscreen LCD display, so the passenger next to you (or your kids in the back seat) will stay entertained during a long drive. As a last tip, remember to take a look at the warranty policy the manufacturer provides. Usually, car stereos come with a warranty period of one or two years, and it is a good idea to take advantage of it in case you encounter problems with your product.

What is the Best Car Stereo?

Car stereos come in various shapes and sizes, with multiple features and capabilities. We hope that now you know the basics and can purchase a good-quality car stereo to fit your vehicle. Go ahead and see our five recommendations below to decide which one is most suitable for you.
Our Top Choice
The AVH-280BT In-Dash DVD Receiver from Pioneer is one of the most sophisticated and attractive car stereos you can buy today. This device comes with a gorgeous 6.2 inch display which allows you to play DVDs and video clips. If your budget is smaller, go for the Pioneer DEH-X4900BT Vehicle CD Digital Music Player instead.
Pioneer In-Dash DVD Receiver with 6.2" Display and Bluetooth, 5-Band Graphic Equalizer

Pioneer Car Stereo AVH-280BT


Features
Pioneer doesn’t need any introduction as it is a leading manufacturer of audio equipment. Some of the best DJs in the world use Pioneer CD players to mix music during various gigs around the world. Pioneer also makes excellent car speakers and, of course, car stereos.

Here are the highlights of the AVH-280BT model from Pioneer.
  • 6.2" WVGA Touchscreen display
  • Bluetooth and hands-free audio streaming
  • Graphic equalizer on 5 bands
  • DVD/CD playback
Best Value
The Clarion CZ305 car stereo is available as a base model or with a receiver and tuner bundle. It features Bluetooth connectivity and it can stream music directly from your Android phone. If you want this player in a different design, then go for the Clarion CX305 2-Din Bluetooth\/CD\/USB\/MP3\/WMA Receiver.
Clarion Bluetooth CD, USB, Mp3, WMA Receiver with aptX for HFP/A2DP/PBAP/AVRCP and Android Media Playback

Clarion Car Stereo CZ305 – Base Model


Features
Clarion is another exquisite brand that specializes in audio equipment and electronics. For example, you can buy amplifiers from this company as well as audio equalizers for your car and GPS systems. Many of the products made by this brand are Amazon Best Sellers at the moment of this writing.

Here are the benefits of the CZ305 car stereo.
  • Available in 2 configurations
  • Bluetooth with aptX
  • Built-In High and Low-Pass filters
  • Pandora Internet Radio using your iPhone or Android device
The DDX9703S 2-DIN In-Dash DVD/CD/AM/FM Car Stereo from Kenwood is an excellent car stereo for those who want a more sophisticated and capable media player. It has a 7" screen and it comes with variable key illumination. If your budget is smaller, then go for the Kenwood eXcelon KDC-X998 CD Receiver.
Kenwood 2-DIN In-Dash DVD, CD, AM, FM Car Stereo with 6.95" Touch Screen with Built-in HD Radio

Kenwood Car Stereo DDX9703S


Features
Kenwood was founded back in 1961, and it is a renowned manufacturer of consumer electronics. You can buy various types of MP3 players from this brand as well as car speakers, car stereos and radios. This company also specializes in custom-made communication systems.

Let's discover the strong points of the DDX9703S car stereo.
  • 7 inch display
  • 7-step tilting angle for better viewing
  • Android Auto compatible and Apple CarPlay compatible
  • 13-band graphic EQ
The Single-Din Bluetooth Car Stereo from Alpine is an affordable option for those who love to listen to music while traveling. It comes with a remote and it is compatible with your iPhone. If you want a car stereo in a different design, then we suggest the Alpine CDE-W265BT Double DIN Bluetooth In-Dash CD\/AM\/FM Receiver.
Alpine Single-Din Bluetooth Car Stereo with HD Radio, Premium LCD Display and SiriusXM Ready

AlpineCar Stereo CDE-HD149BT


Features
Alpine is another prestigious brand that specializes in audio equipment for vehicles. For example, you can buy exquisite car speakers at affordable prices from this company, and most of them are really easy to install. Furthermore, Alpine also makes practical and eye-catching car stereos that will make your time spent in the car more enjoyable.

Let's explore the features of the Single-Din Bluetooth Car Stereo from Alpine.
  • Peak Power Output is 50 watts
  • Built-in equalizer
  • 1-year warranty
  • CD/DVD/USB audio playback
The Sony CDXG3100UP CD Single with Mega Bass Dynamic Amp boasts a power output of 55 watts and it comes with dynamic color illumination. This car stereo is super affordable and easy to install. If you want something more sophisticated, then we recommend the Sony WX900BT CD Receiver with Bluetooth.
Sony CD Single Car Stereo Receiver with Mega Bass Dynamic Amp, Pandora Compatible, Dynamic Illumination

Sony Car Stereo CDXG3100UP - Black


Features
Sony is one of the most popular manufacturers of consumer electronics in the world. You can buy smartphones, headphones, DVD players, TVs and many other gadgets from this brand, and you won't be disappointed by their performance.

Let's take a look at the main features of the CDXG3100UP model and find out why it made our list.
  • Playback support for CD and USB
  • Pandora compatible for iPhones and Android devices
  • Advanced sound with EQ5 and Mega Bass
  • Attractive and dynamic illumination system

Get the Best Car Stereo of 2018!

Every ride is more enjoyable when you listen to your favorite music on CD or radio stations. Using one of the best car stereos out there will definitely transform your journeys into memorable experiences, whether you are driving alone or in the company of your family and friends, so go ahead and pick your favorite one now!

Our Top Choice
Pioneer AVH-280BT Car Stereo
Best Value
Clarion CZ305 Bluetooth Car Stereo Receiver
Kenwood DDX9703S Car Stereo
Alpine CDE-HD149BT Car Stereo
Sony CDX-G3100UP CD Receiver with USB